The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), September 25
“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up . . . to be registered with Mary” (Lk. 2:1). God’s strategy becomes apparent in the movement of the empire, as He moves His people into position. Later, Herod determines to destroy the one born King of the Jews, but is thwarted by God, “Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, ‘Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him’” (Mt. 2:13).
God’s demonstrates His rule in the affairs of world rulers through the birth and protection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Caesar Augustus issues a decree that moves one small family to Bethlehem. Like most governmental decrees, this one inconveniences the poorest of the poor. This decree forces a young husband to travel with his very pregnant wife to a very crowded little village. (Can you imagine having to carry out a census without the aid of computers?) Further, God intervenes when Herod seeks to destroy the holy child.
This is not the first (or last) time in history that God uses political leaders to accomplish His redemptive purposes and thwart those who interfere with His plans. Throughout Israel’s history, God has raised up one nation after another to oppress Israel, with the hopes that His stubborn nation would cry out to Him on bended knee and heart. He has also consistently thwarted those who have attacked Israel against His will.
That God works within government was evidenced during Israel’s exile period, when He raised up one official after another to bless Israel and those living in exile. Nebuchadnezzar was one such king. After being humbled by God for His foolish pride, King Nebuchadnezzar praised God for His sovereignty in human affairs, “For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have you done?’” (Dan. 4:34b-35) Nebuchadnezzar had met the “King of Kings.”
Just as God used a seemingly arbitrary decree to move Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus, and just as He thwarted the evil intentions of a ruler, so God may be using the government that He has put over you to accomplish purposes that you cannot see. Our God is the King of kings, so you can choose either to trust the sovereignty of your great God or live in fear of a government that does not seem to have your best at heart. Your view of God will determine whether you live in peace or turmoil. How big is your view of God?
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Lk. 1:39-80; 2:1-40; Mt. 1:18-25):
What does Elizabeth understand about Mary’s pregnancy? How does the Lord use Elizabeth to encourage Mary and prepare her for the years ahead?
What does the angel’s interaction with Joseph reveal about God? About how God often leads in marriage? About Mary’s silence?
How do the appearance of the shepherds in Bethlehem and Simeon and Anna’s prophecies reinforce Joseph’s faith? What does this reveal about God?